Deaf Culture #14

All deaf people use Hearing Aides?

This is false.  If you have such a profound hearing loss that only the loudest of noises (think close range jumbo jet), a hearing aid would be completely ineffective.  Deaf people can have an extremely wide range of hearing loss, from very little, to profound.  Sometimes the hearing loss is so complicated that a hearing aid would be of no use.  Also, some people prefer not to wear them.  There is a certain amount of stigma related to hearing aids, and many people would prefer to deal with their hearing loss, than to deal with the repercussions of that stigma.  The bottom line is that it is personal preference as much as medical necessity.

Cochlear Implant usage is on the rise in the Deaf Community?

This is, unfortunately, true.  It is unfortunate, not because of the technology itself, but what it means for Deaf Culture.  As technology advances, cochlear implants are becoming better and smaller.  As we know, 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents.  Those parents are more likely to opt for the Cochlear Implant in order to bridge the social, cultural, and physical chasm that exists between their child and themselves.  These two facts have led to an increased number of children being implanted.  Formerly, these children would drift towards the deaf culture as a way of assimilating with others who understood them.  Now, with all of the advances in implantation, these children identify more with the hearing community than the Deaf.  This is leading to a decline in both the number of individuals in the Deaf Community, as well as the number of individuals who have use for ASL.

Cochlear Implants are a miracle fix for someone with a hearing loss?

Here is a little known fact about Cochlear Implants: in most C.I. patients (especially those implanted later in life), use of their implant causes an intense headache.  There is nothing miraculous about having a headache every time you make use of your “cure”.  Many people think that once a person has a cochlear implant, they will hear the same sounds as a person who has no hearing loss.  This is false.  The C.I. allows for “sensations” that are then translated into meaning.  It is like learning to detect sounds with your kneecap and calling that “hearing”.  There is no “miracle fix” for someone with hearing loss, there are simply adjustments that are made.  It is up to the individual whether those adjustments steer them towards the Hearing world, or the Deaf world.

Capital “D” Deaf means that the person attended a residential program, uses American Sign Language, and feels like they are a part of the Deaf Community?

We have discussed previously what the term Deaf means to an individual.  It is an identity, not a label.  It is not uncommon to hear of a person with profound hearing loss, who is extremely active in the Deaf Community, and an advocate for all things Deaf, to be referred to as “Big D Deaf”.  The capital D is the primary indicator of self-acceptance.  The Deaf individual is not looking to change him or herself, and is unwilling to let anyone else change them.

Lower case “d” deaf means that the person most likely attended a mainstream program, may use ASL or some form of it, and also may use amplification devices?

The lower case “d” indicates a medical diagnosis.  The person that identifies with the hearing world, and sees being deaf as a handicap that is to be fixed.  The deaf individual usually wants to be known as something other than deaf, whereas a Deaf individual is, first and foremost, Deaf.